Cross-LoC Trade Indo-Pak Show, JK Govt Can Only Suggest: NC

Srinagar, Nov 19: The ruling National Conference on Monday sought to absolve itself and the state government in the badly declining cross-LoC trade, saying that the intra-Kashmir commercial initiative was “between India and Pakistan.”

“This trade is between India and Pakistan, and the state government can only suggest ways and means for its promotion,” NC spokesman Tanvir Sadiq said.

Business leaders involved in the trading process say that the number of actors had dropped to 30 today from a high of 400 in 2008 when it was started.

The NC spokesman asserted that chief minister Omar Abdullah had recently pressed for ending the barter system, and that the government had taken up issues related to the trade with the central government.

“Outsiders are involved in the trade, but we want only people from the state to conduct the exercise,” he said.

The opposition PDP blamed the NC’s “inefficiency for setbacks to the trade, and said that it was suffering because of lack of follow-up by the government.

“The NC has a habit of raising slogans and then doing nothing on the ground,” PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar said. “It has sidelined this trade.”

“It was supposed to be custom-free and free of restriction on travel, keeping in mind that the two territories are a single entity in reality. This was virtual unification of the state,” he said.

“The NC government talks of the state’s unification. Let me ask them that what happened to their previous election manifesto. They always copy our agenda. They are not serious about any issue. They have only one agenda that’s how to remain in power and exploit the state’s resources,” he said.

Noted businessman and civil society member Shakeel Qalander said: “This trade was started with utter distress and non-seriousness. There remained impediments since the inception which were never removed. The harassment by agencies has resulted in traders opting out.”

“From a commercial angle, there is no affection for this trade. The government’s insensitiveness has destroyed it. We had suggested a positive list of tradable items but our suggestions were never taken seriously. In one particular trade deal there must be two parties and multi party trading should be avoided. This trade has become weaker than barter system,” he said.

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